Kemper's Reviews > Mortal Prey

Mortal Prey by John Sandford
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Sep 29, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: crime-mystery, signed-by-author, 5-0, thriller, 2013-reread, lucas-davenport
Read from July 15 to 17, 2013

Lucas Davenport is one busy fellow with an upcoming wedding to his pregnant girlfriend, a new house in the final phases of construction and a lot of political scheming to be done that makes sure that the top positions within the Minneapolis police get filled by people he trusts as he gets ready to leave the department for a position with state law enforcement. Even though Lucas' plate is pretty damn full, when he gets a call from the FBI about Clara Rinker he drops everything else to give chase.

Clara used to be a hit woman with over two dozen kills to her name, and she and Davenport fought each other to a draw the last time they tangled. Living a new life in Mexico, Clara had been happily hooked up with a man she loved and was carrying his child. Unfortunately, Clara’s old mob employers in St. Louis had found her and dispatch a hired gun. The attempt leaves the boyfriend and baby dead, and Clara very, very angry.

The hit on Clara exposed her real identity, and since Lucas is the only cop who had any luck at tracking her down, the FBI recruits him for the hunt which takes them from Mexico to St. Louis. As Clara plans her revenge on the men responsible for the attack on her, Davenport tries to figure out a way to catch one of the smartest and deadliest foes he’s ever faced.

Clara Rinker is probably the most memorable villain of the Prey novels so it’s no surprise that Sandford brought her back for an encore. Part of what makes her different from the rest of the in this series is that she’s about the only Davenport adversary that you ever sympathize with. Rinker wasn’t born bad, she was made that way through abuse, but even though she’s a ruthless killer, she’s also a woman who tried to leave that behind only to suffer more losses. Plus, she’s smart, tough, funny and just downright likeable. Sandford does a nice job of bringing you to the brink of actively rooting for her only to slap the reader in the face with occasional reminders that Clara is capable of cold blooded murder against innocent people.

Lucas’s attitude towards Clara is also different than any one else he’d ever go after. You can tell that he admires her on some level, but he never loses sight of what she is and the need to stop her. Her planning skills make her the perfect foil for Lucas and the devious traps he concocts to catch the bad guys. (view spoiler)

Another element to like about this one is that Lucas is operating in St. Louis for most of the book so he’s off his own turf. Davenport has had a long standing contempt for the FBI (That he generally refers to as the Feebs.) and there’s a nice clash with him getting fed up with their high handed attitude and them wanting to sit around a conference table while he wants to hit the streets and operate. He can come up with more info after talking to a group of retired St. Louis cops over some beers than the Feds do in the entire book, and you get the sense that the old reporter Sandford is no fan of government bureaucracy.

This is among the very best of the Prey novels thanks to the return of one of its best villains. I’d highly recommend reading Certain Prey before this one because the recapping of those events in this one would completely spoil it.

Next: Lucas gets a new job in Naked Prey.
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Michael (new)

Michael Outstanding review, rendering a clear picture of reading pleasure in store. More evidence that I dropped out of the series too soon (6 or 7), and that old dogs have plenty of new tricks (or old tricks that still work). And grew up a little from his excessive womanizing, flashing around with expensive cars, and continually playing head games with people (well hopefully, he didn't grow up too much).

You told me Mark Harmon was miscast as Davenport in the movie of "Certain Prey" with wicked Clara, but I am unfortunately stuck with his image. Have "Silken Prey" from the library to compete with the later Flowers one, "Shock Wave." But you convince me to reach back.


message 2: by Kemper (last edited Jul 19, 2013 08:41AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kemper Michael wrote: "Outstanding review, rendering a clear picture of reading pleasure in store. More evidence that I dropped out of the series too soon (6 or 7), and that old dogs have plenty of new tricks (or old tr..."

Thanks. One of the things I like about this series is that Davenport did grow and mellow a bit over time, and while he eventually settled down in some ways, he keeps some of the hard edged bastard thing that made him fun for me.


James Thane Right again. I think that Rinker is still my favorite of all of Sandford's villains.


Kemper James wrote: "Right again. I think that Rinker is still my favorite of all of Sandford's villains."

She'd get my vote, too.


message 5: by Rade (new)

Rade quick question: can this book be read as a stand alone or do I need to read other Lucas Davenport books? I never read any other books featuring this character in the series.


James Thane I'd really recommend starting with the first in the series, Rules Of Prey. The characters grow and develop through the series and if you start with one of the later ones, you'll learn things that you may not want to know if you get hooked and decide to go back and read the earlier ones.


message 7: by Rade (new)

Rade Oh, well that sounds good. I read some of Sandford's work and he is a great author so I'll take your advice on it. Makes perfect sense to me. Thank you for the input. I love novels where we get to see characters unravel and change with the cases they work on or obstacles they face in life. Thanks again.


Kemper I will echo Jim here and say that while most of the Lucas Davenport books are self-contained stories, that like any series if you read the later ones first you'll have an idea of how some of the things from earlier books turned out.

And with Mortal Prey, it's a direct sequel to Certain Prey with Clara Rinker appearing in both books. Even if you don't want to commit to the entire series, in this case I'd recommend reading that one first. Silent Prey also functions as a kind of direct sequel to Eyes of Prey so there's another one to avoid if you're just looking for one to try it out.


message 9: by Rade (new)

Rade Thanks for clearing that up for me. I'll probably go all the way back and start with the first one to get an idea of how the character(s) changed over time. Since some books are connected in one way or another, I would hate to read a random one that spoils the previous one or the one before. I think I did that with one of the Lehane's books in the Kenzie & Gennaro series and I kind of regretted it.

I'll probably read all the books int he series eventually, but I got a lot on my plate at this point. Thanks again for everything. You helped a lot.


Kemper Rade wrote: "Thanks for clearing that up for me. I'll probably go all the way back and start with the first one to get an idea of how the character(s) changed over time. Since some books are connected in one wa..."

Glad we could help. Jim and I both like to spread the gospel of Sandford.

Like a lot of series, the early books are kind of working through what it's going to be and while I like most of them, I don't think they really hit their full potential until about Winter Prey. And they can seem a little dated at this point. Still, I think Rules of Prey is one of the better serial killer thrillers out there.

Hope you enjoy when you get a chance.


message 11: by Rade (new)

Rade If he is good, keep spreading the good word of Sandford.

I actually just downloaded first three books in the series. Not sure when I'll get to them but I have them so it will be eventually. I love when authors get better with each book. Some get progressively worse because they got no good stories to tell.

I hope so too. Thanks for everything.


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